Cheater Quilt Lesson Four: Placing the Blocks

NOV 25, 2015 updated Jun 1, 2021

The next step is to place the patchwork blocks into your design. Open the file you worked on last week where you have prepared with the background and border.

Illustrator: Choose File -> Place. Choose one of the patchwork blocks saved on your hard drive and click Place.

Photoshop: Choose File -> Place Embedded. Choose one of the patchwork blocks saved on your hard drive and click Place.

This is the step where the rulers and grid will be very helpful. I centered the patchwork blocks in the design and left 2 inch borders between them. Click and drag the first patchwork block so that the top left corner of the block is at 8 inches (right) and 5 inches (down) from the corner of the design.

Continue placing the additional blocks in the same way, aligning them carefully with the grid markings. You should leave 2 inches between each of the blocks, both side to side and top to bottom.

Illustrator: You can click and move the blocks anytime using the Select Tool (black arrow).

Photoshop: If you need to go back and adjust the spacing on a block you have already placed, Photoshop will have put each one in its own Layer. To move those blocks, you will need to select Layer in the Layers Palette and then use the Move Tool (multi arrow).

Adjust the balance and order of the design.

I placed my blocks in “rainbow order”, starting with the purple block and continuing clockwise with each color, but I tried several variations before I liked how it all looked together. Here are some variations to think about:

  • Rearrange your patchwork blocks and audition different arrangements. You might have some that are darker or lighter than the others. Just like we did when adjusting the small collages, you want to look for balance in your design.
  • Add more or less negative space. Negative space is the open space around your patchwork blocks. Maybe you would like only 1 inch between your blocks. Or you might want more space between the blocks from side to side to make the outside borders even.

Save it.

Save your design. Save it as the native format (.ai or .psd). This way you always have a copy you can go back to edit later. Next we will export it at the exact size we need to upload for printing.

Export for printing.

Illustrator: Choose Export. A window will pop up and you should choose a name for your file. I called mine Final. Then choose .jpg from the Format options at the bottom. Click export and one more window will pop up with JPEG options. The important one to adjust in this window is resolution, which should be set to Medium (150 ppi).

Photoshop: Choose File -> Save As… A window will pop up and you should choose a name for your file. I called mine Final. Then choose .jpg from the Format options at the bottom. Then click Save.

Optional coordinating print.

You are ready to upload and order your fabric at this point, but I want to take minute to talk about the backing and binding for your finished quilt. You can choose to use just a solid color for both the backing and binding and we will talk about how to choose that in the next lesson.

Instead of a solid, I wanted a really simple colorful print to coordinate with my quilt top, so I made a really simple gradient in the same rainbow colors.

Create a new file that is 9×9 inches (1350×1350 pixels). Choose the Gradient Fill tool. The tool often has a default setting that is a rainbow, or you can choose your own colors to match your quilt design. Click and drag to fill the canvas with the gradient. I chose to have mine fill diagonally from corner to corner. Save this as a .jpg and we will come back to it when we are uploading.

Upload your final design(s).

First upload your quilt top design to the Spoonflower website. Go to Create -> custom fabric. Find your Final.jpg design on your hard drive and upload it.

Choose 1 yard of the Organic Cotton Sateen and a centered repeat. Your design should fit exactly on one yard. Add this to your cart. If you have a gradient design to coordinate, upload that next. For this design, I chose a mirrored repeat to make the diamond shapes, but you can use any repeat you like. I am going to make the backing and binding with this print, so I will need 2 yards. Add this to your cart as well.

One last bonus to think about. Make a quilt label to personalize your quilt. Spoonflower has a great little tutorial on the website.

It will take just a week or two to get your fabric printed and shipped to you. So, in the next lesson we will talk about tools and materials you need to finish the quilt and give you a quick sewing lesson.

When your fabric arrives, we’d love to see it! Share your printed fabric using the#SpoonChallenge hashtag on your favorite social media platform!

Happy creating!

+Becka

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